Monday, 19 January 2015

Goodbye, I'll miss you.

I've been putting this post off for weeks but the time has come to do it. Before Christmas I'm at my personal training session, complaining about boys (as per usual) when Jemma stops me. 'I have something to tell you'. My head suddenly fills with all the worst case scenarios it can come up with. She's getting married to a Saudi Prince and has to leave immediately. She's developed a rare allergy to sweat and can no longer be a personal trainer. Oh shut up brain.

'I'm moving to Australia'- is what she actually said. Cue emotional and mental breakdown. *You will not cry in the WILL NOT cry in the gym*.

But Australia's so far away!
So yeah, my absolutely beloved personal trainer- someone who has been such an enormous part of my journey so far- is leaving next week to start the next part of her own journey. I'm torn by feeling proud that she's breaking out and having new experiences and screaming 'but what about me?! I can't believe that you're not going to be here till the end. We were going to start a weight loss empire and become millionaires!' {That is still totally going to happen...}

However hard the idea of being separated from Jemma is to contemplate, I want to focus on the amazing contribution this woman- my pint sized ninja sidekick- has made so far.

Jemma was by no means my first personal trainer. I have a history of unceremoniously dumping my personal trainers. I just kind of disappear, don't reply to texts or calls until they get the picture. Either I've not felt challenged, don't get on with the person or I just haven't been in the right place to take full advantage of the skills they were offering me.

Jemma though, was different. Not only did she appear in my life at exactly the point that we would both be able to benefit from our relationship with each other, she was the first personal trainer I have ever connected with. It started at the very beginning, she complimented my Ted Baker handbag. It was love. She realised early on that I was more capable than I, or anyone, might think and as such I was constantly challenged to do better, be better or just try something new. Through her, I finally learnt what it meant to love activity. I know now what it feels like to be able to say, 'woah, my body can do amazing things. Let's see if it can do X?' She's the reason that I have no doubt that I can do Tough Mudder in August or the Milton Keynes Marathon in May.

Ted Baker. Bringing people together since 2012
Shortly into our time together I went back to Bristol and was sure that I'd be able to continue that trend with other personal trainers. I was wrong and Vanessa and Dave became the next victims of, the now infamous, Hunter dumping. I neither connected with them nor felt challenged by the programs that they set me. They just couldn't put me at ease or felt confident themselves to see what would happen if they gave the 20+ stone girl some heavy weights and see what happened or tease gently when I pull my pouty face that I simply cannot do another rep.

As we worked together more, Jemma ceased to be just my personal trainer. She became my friend. I trust her totally, something summed up last week when I let her give me a piggy back. Think about that for a moment... As someone who hasn't been picked up by another human being in well over a decade, this was a huge moment for me and her. I had to try not to cry as we high fived and she said she was happy to have been the first person to pick me up. We talk about just about anything including failed tinder experiments and an unfortunate crush that may or may not have been had in the first few weeks of my new job. Awks.

Every time we have a session, even if I am hating life or just want my bed, I can honestly say I smile as I tie my laces and head out of the front door. For the first time in my life I am excited to see what can be achieved and working with her has me seriously considering qualifying as a personal trainer myself. I am not exaggerating when I say that she has changed my life for good.

So learning that today is our last session has left me flat out devastated. I nearly cried when we were boxing as I felt the loss rising up inside but I know that this is not the end. We WILL have our empire of fitness videos where y'all can experience the fun and laughter that our sessions bring. I can only say that training with her has been inspirational and an absolute pleasure.

So, there you have it. I had always hoped that she would be there till the end of my journey and she will be- just not as we'd originally planned. So Jemma, and I know you're reading this, I will miss you more than words can say and am so pleased to have had the privilege of having you in my life for the last year and a half. It's been an absolute blast and I hope you have an amazing time in Australia...even if the evil part of my brain is hoping you come home soon.

Friday, 16 January 2015

The most important lie I ever did tell.

Dear Diary,

I have a confession to make. Last week, I lied about my weigh in. I lied to myself, I lied to my daily record and also anyone who asked about how I'd done that week. The truth then, is that I gained a pound. I told everyone I'd lost a pound. I didn't even do a little lie and say I'd stayed the same. And as I stepped on the scales on Wednesday and saw that I had lost that pound and another two, effectively bringing me to the place I would have been had I actually weighed in as 17 stone 2 last week and lost another pound, I started to question why I had lied in the first place.

Here's what I figured out when I really thought about it. Over the last few months I had managed a greater level of consistency than I had every achieved before on weight watchers. That consistency has been so very important to me in driving me to keep it going and I think that I was scared to let myself slip, even a little- even if I then rectified the situation the next week. I was also wary of the fact that in gaining a pound I went back a step in being over my half way mark. So I lied. I actively told myself- you lost another pound, that pound meant that my daily points allowance changed to 38, that pound meant that I hadn't dropped the consistency, that pound meant that I believed I was still going the right way and consequently that pound meant that I continued to lose this week. As such it felt like the most important lie I could tell myself at that time as I didn't put myself down once for gaining that pound.

However, I have no way of telling if I would have done as well, worse or better if I had owned my gain when it happened and, more importantly, I failed to stay honest to myself and the plan. So I resolved as I saw my weight drop to the lowest I've ever been, again, that I would always be honest in the future. If I can be honest with my tracker about what I'm putting into my body, if I can own the bad times with the good, then I can certainly afford to accept the gains with the losses because it's a part of life that actually helps to increase the value of the loss afterwards. Simple maths to demonstrate what I mean:

If I had actually weighed as 17 2, my loss of a pound this week doesn't seem as impressive as the three pounds I actually lost to bring me to where I am today.

In retrospect that first gain in months was important to me- it showed that one blip is not going to screw the plan up and that I can pick myself up, brush myself off and keep going.

So, whilst it felt like an important lie to tell myself at the time, I will not be repeating this practice. I'm 94 pounds in, I don't NEED to lie to myself to know that I've got this. I just need to persist.

Monday, 5 January 2015

The dreaded binge

This past Sunday I went on a work night out with some of my colleagues and our tech reps who come in at weekends as specialists to save my behind when I know shite all about Panasonic TVs or why Bowers and Wilkins T7 bluetooth speaker is made up of hundreds of honeycomb shapes. As frequently happens in situations where many people will be eating/ drinking together, what followed the initial organisation stage was a whatsapp argument about the venue for sustenance that went on for days. Mr Bowers and Wilkins finally made the executive decision of T.G.I. Fridays. Dun dun DUUUUUUN.

I've got nothing against T.G.I. Fridays - in my youth I was quite partial to a Cheesy Bacon Cheeseburger after my starter of mozzarella dippers- but T.G.I. Fridays is quite literally the WORST PLACE you can go on Weight Watchers and probably just about any other 'diet' going. To elaborate on this point I have listed the best and worst options and their points below. As a frame of reference to those not on Weight Watchers, I'm on 39 points a day, I weigh 17 stone 3lbs and am 5 ft 6 tall:

The best thing you can have on the menu is...Garlic Ciabatta Bread, Plain (a starter) at 12 proPoints. Alternatively you can have a quarter of the Loaded Potato Skins for the same 12 proPoints.
The WORST thing on the menu is...the Double stacked Jack Daniel's Monterey Burger, a bargain at 78 proPoints. That is literally twice my daily allowance. But I hear you, go for something real- I'm not going to have the double stacked version. So the single burger is 57 proPoints. Huh. Interesting.

Why are you so delicious?
Now, before I left home I thought long and hard about this. Florence, I said to myself, you've started well in this new year. Let's not do anything to jeopardise the consistent weight loss you've been experiencing. And so, I did the sensible thing. I got white girl wasted on fruity cocktails laced with popping candy and suddenly all concept of 'good' and 'bad' disappeared. I somehow managed to maintain a cool head long enough to order a steak. But instead of holding back on the chips I polished them off and 1.5 of my friend Alice's mozzarella dippers...another bargain at 34 proPoints for the entire starter sized serving...

Damn you and your fabulous fruity friends.
I know what you're thinking. Surely you left it there? Nope. As I downed my fourth tequila shot with a Smirnoff ice chaser (5 proPoints per bottle- I now know...), I had at no point slowed down the caloric intake. In fact I was long past caring and ordered a serving of cheesy chips to really polish off my evening.

This is not intended as some kind of binge shaming exercise but rather, is important to talk about because most people will have done something similar at one point or another. And that is absolutely okay. I feel no guilt in what I did. I had a great time. According to my fitness tracker I will have danced off most of those empty calories and I have worked really hard today to get myself back into the healthy swing of things. And it's this that people tend not to do after a binge. The initial feeling is unadulterated guilt, followed by self loathing and then starvation for the rest of the day.

Today's salvation.
Instead, today I did what I felt sensible. Having obliterated 33 of my daily points before even waking up, I had a green juice at Alice's house filled with spinach and fruits and flaxseeds and some nuts- after the evening's escapades I was also by no means 'hungry'. When I got home I had a peppermint tea to settle my, very unhappy, tummy and about a gallon of water before a long bath and a short nap. My mind and lack of sleep do not go well together. My lunch time salad was filled with greens, lean meat and some pulses for extra protein and fibre and my Chicken noodle soup worked in multiple ways. 1st it helped to heal my soul- I hear it's good for that, 2nd it was light but filling with plenty of vegetables, some lentils and my wholemeal pasta and 3rd I'm hoping it'll help keep the cold at bay for a little while longer. Tomorrow I shall be back in the gym, which I'm dreading as I cannot currently move without my muscles rebelling against yesterday's leg day and as I confessed the levels of overeating to Jemma I feel confident some very high intensity work is coming in the morning...

Accurate depiction of me today. Ow.
Basically, this blog post has been good for me as I can visualise just what the 'damage' was. This, I feel, is important because it's all a part of the accountability that I have adopted since losing weight. It is also important to me because I know there are many out there who have done, and will continue to do (we're only human) the same or very similar things who beat themselves up about it no end. To those people, I say don't. Tomorrow is another day and continuing to fret about stuff in the past is simply allowing negativity to live rent free in your mind. And frankly, life's just too short for that.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

New year's resolutions. Moisturise me?

They say that you should start the new year as you intend to go on. So perhaps it's telling that I  rung in the new year with a weigh in, before a cup of green tea around 10:30 before promptly falling asleep watching Sex and the City. According to my shiny new health and fitness monitor, I had 129% of my required sleep last night. I woke up feeling rested and ready to take on the challenges of the new year.

Before I go on, let's talk a bit about last night's weigh in. And this is where I go a bit boast-y. I lost 2lbs. TWO POUNDS, the week of Christmas. Now, not only is that cool because I start the new year on a high and I achieved the inconceivable- losing weight over Christmas- but I ticked off two of my goals on my super amazing spreadsheet. 6 and a half stone AND over half way. As of last night I have lost 92 lbs and have *only* 91 lbs to go. Considering that I am hoping to finally get into the green BMI class this year starting the new year over half way there is an enormous confidence boost. It also means that, finally, the pounds to go jar of beads is less full than the pounds lost. This is something that I hoped I'd see but don't think I ever fully realised the possibility. The loss also means that I am continuing on the consistency I talked about last week that is oh so important, I think, to my continued success. If nothing else I want to strive for consistency. Even if it's only half a pound a week, a loss is what I'm aiming for.

Pretty even Stevens
So now let's talk about THIS side of the new year. I started the day with another cup of green tea and my course of multi-vitamins, glucosamine and evening primrose oil before my cheats eggs Benedict of a slice of seeded bloomer, ham and a poached egg and I'll be heading to the gym to see Jemma in about half an hour. I am determined that I will start off this year as confidently as I ended the last and despite my feeling in the past that new years aren't actually a 'new start', it's just another day, I can't help but be filled with a sense that this new year IS the start of something new for me. It's, hopefully, the start of the last year I'm in the red or orange areas of the BMI chart but it's more than that. I don't think I've ever started a year so positively. Sure, I've forgotten to buy a new calendar so my wall still thinks it's December, but I have a job that I love, a degree course I am enjoying so much, my health and fitness that I'm as enthusiastic about as I've ever been and I'm only 8 lbs away from 100 lbs lost. Also, going into kilograms for a moment, I'm under 10 kg away from my weight when I was...14? Shortly I will literally be taking up less room than I did a decade ago.

So I need to think strongly about new year's resolutions. I've kind of touched on it above, but this year as well as continuing my journey to lose weight, I want to start looking after myself much more. More water, more consistent exercise (marathon training takes full effect at 2pm this afternoon), seeing the physio/sports masseur to keep my muscles supple, ensuring that I'm getting the nutrients I need from my food- even if it means that I wait for 10 minutes making a poached egg rather than just having a bagel that takes a minute and a half in the toaster- and taking supplements to keep my joints in good working order whilst they take a pounding getting ready for 26.2 miles in May, and beyond.

But more than that, I'm going to start coming into my final body and that needs some care on the outside too. I've only touched on this before but one of the biggest things I think about when it comes to losing weight is 'will I effectively just be an enormous bag of loose skin at the end?' I'm borderline obsessed with it. When I see women who have lost considerable amounts of weight my eyes instantly fly to their underarm area. I've looked through pictures on the internet and spoken to experts who try to suggest strongly that at my age it should mostly bounce back but this year, and especially as I move closer to triple digits I'm going to take a lot better care of my skin and I'd advise you take out shares in bio-oil cus I'll be going through the stuff like nobody's business.

But any way, I'm wishing everyone here a happy, healthy new year. I'm going out to get what I want, I hope you do too.

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